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I am new here, I hope this is the right place to ask the following.

I am practicing Étude 2 by Philip Glass and there are some parts of the score that look impossible for the fingers. But I see sometimes a different notation.

For example here you see in red that he used the caret and “smaller” notes but if you try this in the piano is impossible to play all at the same time. If I listen to the piece I am almost sure I only hear the higher notes in the right hand.

What is this notation telling me exactly?

Etude 2

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  • Don't know - but the small notes are octave copies of the l.h. notes. – Tim Jan 2 at 13:07
  • By any chance, is this Glass Etude 2 a transcription of a piece that's for more than one instrument and/or player? – Dekkadeci Jan 2 at 14:04
  • @dekkadeci Thanks for the comment, no, this is part of the original book of Piano Etudes. – Eduardo Ruiz Duarte Jan 2 at 14:22
  • I am starting to think that the small notes are “optional”. See 3:13 here youtu.be/VpoeveMSG18 – Eduardo Ruiz Duarte Jan 2 at 14:23
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The notes set in small type are alternatives to the octaves given in full-size type. They're there for a pianist who finds the octaves unduly difficult.

For example, the pianist's hands are visible at that point in this video.

Here is another (IMO better) example without the slowing:

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  • Thanks, Is this common notation for “alternative” notes to play ? – Eduardo Ruiz Duarte Jan 2 at 15:23
  • @EduardoRuizDuarte This is one of several common notations. Often such notes are also explicitly marked as "optional" or "ossia", sometimes there will be performance instructions stating as much, and sometimes they are notated on a separate (third) staff. – Aaron Jan 2 at 15:30

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